A property developer behind a controversial scheme linked to a Liverpool politician has promised to deliver the project.
An ECHO investigation revealed how councillor Abdul Qadir was linked to a large residential development scheme on Vauxhall Road in Vauxhall through his directorship with Vega Trading. Cllr Qadir resigned from his role as cabinet lead for neighbourhoods following revelations in the ECHO about his links to the Vega Group.
Liverpool Council’s standards and ethics committee recently cleared Cllr Qadir in relation to a complaint that he had failed to declare this interest in key meetings.
In August Cllr Qadir told the ECHO his sole role with Vega Trading was to oversee imports and export and that his role with other parts of the Vega Group were extremely limited. In September photographs emerged showing the conditions inside the MV Canal site at Vauxhall Wharf on Vauxhall Road, which showed evidence of fly-tipping and drug use.
Sami Labidi, owner of the Vega Group, has now promised to deliver the scheme on Vauxhall Road. He said to the ECHO: "The site has now been secured. We hope to deliver the scheme by the close of 2023. We plan to deliver 70 luxurious one- and two-bedroom apartments."
Kevin Robinson-Hale, who is standing as a Green Party candidate in the next local elections, said: “Vauxhall Wharf, like other stalled sites in north Liverpool, is an eyesore. I am pleased that the developer has promised to deliver this particular scheme. We will now hold him to his word. Vauxhall and Kirkdale have been blighted by failed schemes over recent years and we need more scrutiny."
Speaking earlier this year Mr Labidi said the site on Vauxhall Road stalled following the death of his father. He added that lockdown also contributed to the delay. He vowed to secure the site after disturbing pictures emerged in September.
Cllr Qadir's has been a director of Vega Trading since September 2014. Vega Trading, the company Cllr Qadir works for, helped finance MV Canal with a number of large loans worth £250,000.
Cllr Qadir was a member of a Liverpool council taskforce set up to investigate buyer-funded property schemes in the city, known as fractional sales. Following revelations in the Liverpool ECHO Cllr Richard Kemp put in a formal complaint about his conduct to the city solicitor. Cllr Kemp felt that Cllr Qadir's links to a major stalled site in the city should have prevented him from sitting on the taskforce.
Liverpool Council’s standards and ethics committee met at the Cunard Building on December 20 to consider a report which followed an investigation into this complaint. The committee found no meetings were identified where an obligation to declare the registered or other interests arose.
The committee did find that Cllr Qadir had tried to lobby former mayor Joe Anderson. The committee found Cllr Qadir was “seeking to lobby and influence the way the council dealt with an application being pursued by a company owned by the owner of his employer who was also a friend and using the title ‘Councillor Qadir’ and contacts to do so. The email was also considered to be unfairly critical of officers and was not an email that a councillor should be sending to the former Mayor of the Council.”
A Labour Party spokesperson said: "Abdul is grateful the matter is now closed and thanks the committee for the opportunity make his case. He voluntarily stepped down the the cabinet back in August so that he could clear-up this matter and has co-operated fully throughout.
"On the substantive points, the committee has cleared Abdul of any wrongdoing in relation to declaring his occupation in the Register of Members' Interests. He entirely accepts this oversight was his fault and immediately rectified the matter when it was brought to light.
"On the issue of 'lobbying' then-mayor, Joe Anderson, back in relation to several developments connected to his employer, Abdul admitted that he sent an email enquiring about progress. This was, however, a one-off message and no follow-up meeting ever took place.
"Indeed, it was Abdul who voluntarily provided a copy of the email to the committee in a spirit of full disclosure. Again, he fully accepts the committee's advice that it was not wise to mix-up his public and private roles but the email had no material effect on any decisions."
The ECHO approached Cllr Qadir for comment.